Answering the call of the South

vendredi, 05 juillet 2013 16:53

Celebrating one’s national feast in one’s home town seems a logical and pleasant thing to do: that is exactly what Belem will be doing this year. She is sailing into Nantes harbour on July 5th for a ten-day stopover at her very own Belem pontoon, where she will be playing her- important -part in the July 14th festivities. Then, the very next day she will be setting sail for a whole year, no less, of travel and adventure on the waves of the Mediterranean…

Belem being a part of the great parade of ships -16 june 2013 © Nabil Bachir


After linking Lisbon to Port-Vendres via Tangier and Alicante, she will be completing a varied and exciting summer season such as sailing south to Malta and round Sicily, passing through the straits of Bonifacio and competing in the Mediterranean Tall Ship Race ; she will spend the winter months in the South, prior to making her way in the spring towards Venice and the truly historical occasion of her reunion with the beautiful city that was her home for many years. The spring months of this year’s sailing season in the Atlantic and the North Sea have also been extremely eventful – in the sense that Belem was one of the stars of a succession of maritime events in France and abroad. Starting in Dunkirk, city of the famous buccaneer Jean Bart, she met up with ten other tall ships and welcomed aboard some 6000 visitors during the four-day events. Then it was off to Rouen and up the Seine for the world famous Armada:  ten days of hectic activities for millions of visitors come to admire some 45 ships from many countries, near and far. Notwithstanding tough competition from the giants of the sea such as the Russian ships  Krusenstern and  Mir, Belem got her fair share of fans, with a record number of 15 000 visitors during her stay. As for the tens of thousands who lined the banks of the Seine during the great parade of ships down to the sea, well, need we say more?

And finally, Belem graced with her presence the Den Helder naval celebrations in … Den Helder, Netherlands, for the 525th anniversary of the Royal Dutch Navy. A trip up North but also down memory lane for one particular Italian traveller, Gianni Missiaja : as a boy, he was one of the naval orphans, the “marinaretti” who were taught to sail on Belem when she was an Italian school ship in the sixties. His aim on board Belem was not only to relive his youthful years but also to relay his experience and impressions back to the group of his old school friends who are awaiting the return of their ship next year in Venice. He wasn’t the only European on board: for the first time, on both trips to and from Den Helder, trainees from the Dutch Sea Rescue teams sailed on Belem: their enthusiasm, energy and motivation greatly impressed the crew; in their turn, they enjoyed themselves to the extent that they  expressed their hope of taking part in other training trips,  while  in Den Helder, the rain and the wind  did not deter some 3000 visitors from coming aboard, eager to explore this French vessel that had come all the way up to 90 km North of Amsterdam to be with the Dutch people during their celebrations!



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